FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant participated in meetings in Toronto and Washington earlier this month, discussing trade and building connections with other North American leaders.

“The Canada-United States trading relationship is important to both countries’ economies,” said Gallant. “We discussed trade issues and opportunities in these meetings, including NAFTA and the Softwood Lumber Agreement.” 

In Toronto, Gallant participated in meetings of the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance. The conference featured one-on-one business matchmaking meetings among delegates and companies from across North America, including New Brunswick, as well as forums with senior executives about best practices and innovation. While in Toronto, he also had meetings with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, as well as representatives of several businesses. 

Gallant was in Washington June 6-8 as part of the Council of the Federation mission. During this joint advocacy mission of Canada’s premiers, Gallant met with American political leaders to build relationships on matters of importance to New Brunswick, including trade and border issues. Former United States ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, who was recently appointed as New Brunswick’s special envoy on softwood lumber, was involved in trade discussions, providing advice and establishing and participating in meetings.

In Washington, Gallant met with:

  • Stephen Schwarzman, chair of the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum, and chair, CEO and co-founder of investment firm Blackstone
  • Sonny Perdue, agriculture secretary
  • John Andersen, deputy assistant secretary for the Western hemisphere, Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration
  • Chellie Pingree, congresswoman from Maine
  • Susan Collins, senator from Maine
  • David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States

In addition:

  • Gallant had the opportunity to meet with several business leaders and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, including Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States.
  • Gallant addressed trade in a speech to members of congress, U.S. State Department officials, and business and non-governmental organization leaders.
  • Prior to leaving Washington, Gallant will participate in a premiers’ panel discussion highlighting the important economic links between Canada and the United States, as well as the roles played by the provinces and territories in maintaining this relationship.

Softwood lumber was a key point of discussion at the meetings in Toronto and Washington. The industry contributes more than $1.45 billion to the provincial economy each year, employs more than 22,000 people, and is an important export for New Brunswick businesses. 

“Canada is the United States’ largest export market in the world,” said Gallant. “We reiterated how doing business with Canadians creates millions of jobs for Americans.”

Gallant and other government representatives have been lobbying the federal and American governments in support of New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry since 2014. The provincial government has made submissions to the United States Department of Commerce, demonstrating that New Brunswick has an open, fair and undistorted market for lumber.

Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also the minister responsible for trade policy, was in Boston in April, discussing the matter with officials of the Massachusetts state government, and did the same during an advocacy mission to Augusta, Maine, earlier that month. Deputy premier Stephen Horsman was recently in China as part of an economic and advocacy initiative, promoting New Brunswick’s softwood lumber industry to help businesses diversify. Melanson will lead a similar mission to Europe, while a followup mission to China is planned for the fall. Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet is in China this week as part of an energy and natural resources mission led by federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

Prior to attending the Southeastern United States-Canadian Provinces Alliance meetings in Toronto, Gallant was in Ottawa and met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several federal cabinet ministers.